CONSERVATIVE councillor Matthew James has announced his resignation from the Conservative party, saying he has gone from being an ardent supporter of Prime Minister David Cameron's policies to a strong critic.
The 24-year-old councillor, who represents St Marys and Summercombe ward, broke the news on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, saying: "It is with great regret that I announce my resignation from the Conservative party. I am sorry for the trouble caused."
Mr James, who will become an independent councillor, said he had gone from being an ardent supporter of David Cameron and his party to being a strong critic.
He wrote on his own website
"It was a very difficult decision and I am very sorry to everyone who will be caused hurt or embarrassment by my decision.
"Over the past year I have gone from being an ardent supporter of David Cameron and the Conservative party to being a strong critic. I have gone from wanting a serious career in politics to becoming so disillusioned with everything that I am unsure I will ever stand for election again.
"I believe this government has turned its back on the compassionate, communitarian conservatism that was once promised. While I do agree with many of the governments policies on issues like education, localism, gay marriage and law and order, the good that is being done is being significantly undermined by a misguided and damaging commitment to austerity and recent U turns on protecting the environment and civil liberties.
"The recently announced plan by the government to look at removing housing benefits from everyone under the age of 25 was the final straw and is something that I, as a young person, cannot support.
"Locally I am finding myself disagreeing with the party line more often than I think acceptable and therefore I feel I would be better off becoming an independent.
"I will probably still support much of what the Conservative group puts forward, but for the sake of my integrity I need to be able to do what I feel is best for the people of Brixham and for young people without feeling like I am betraying my colleagues on the council by voting against policies sometimes.
"I would like to apologise to the voters who voted for me because I was the Conservative candidate. I am not joining another party but will stay independent, I hope that I have shown over the past year that I will always put the interests of the people of Brixham first and keep my manifesto promises e.g. to stand up for young people.
"This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I feel that I am doing what is right both for my own integrity and for the interests of the people of Brixham."
Fellow councillor Darren Cowell Tweeted: "@matthewrjames takes courage. Well done and I look forward to working with you - especially on jobs and youth issues.
"After @matthewrjames decision to quit the #Tories, #Brixham becomes a #Tory free zone on #TorbayCouncil"